Overview of Victoria’s position
Australia’s unprecedented bushfire season of 2019–20 highlighted the changing scale and intensity of natural disasters and the increasing pressures placed on communities, businesses, the environment and the emergency management sector.
Victoria supports the intent of all the recommendations and the desire to continue to strengthen and improve emergency management outcomes, community-led recovery and enhanced disaster resilience for all Australians.
As acknowledged by the Royal Commission, state and territory governments have – and will continue to have – primary responsibility and accountability for emergency management. Victoria looks forward to working with all jurisdictions to improve emergency management outcomes for all Australians.
Victoria remains concerned about reform that may impact state-based coordination arrangements. This includes Recommendation 5.1 (to make provision for a declaration of a state of emergency) which would enable unilateral action by the Commonwealth to declare a national state of emergency. The introduction of new laws that empower the Commonwealth to declare a national emergency, without consultation with states and territories in some circumstances, is concerning. The circumstances in which a declaration may be made and the actions that the Commonwealth can take must be clear and understood, in line with the Royal Commission’s recommendations.
Victoria is pleased to see the Royal Commission reinforcing the approach that managing natural disaster risk is built from shared responsibility involving all levels of government, community, individuals and the private sector. Integration and collaboration are at the core of existing Victorian Government arrangements for natural disaster risk management. For example, ‘ – a new approach to reducing the risk of bushfire in Victoria – provides that local communities will be involved in decision-making about bushfire risk all year round and that fire agencies will work with communities to determine local solutions to reduce bushfire risk.
Victoria welcomes the Royal Commission’s acknowledgement of the impact that climate change is having on driving more severe and intense natural disasters. Victoria is one of the most bushfire prone areas in the world and, as climate change accelerates, the compounding effects of more frequent and intense natural disasters will present greater challenges to our communities, infrastructure, economies and ecosystems.
Victoria is committed to continuing its decisive action on climate change. Immediate and ongoing action to reduce emissions by all Australian governments is the only way to prevent the continuing escalation of natural disasters.
The Victorian Government also recognises Traditional Owners’ deep connection with, knowledge of, and rights in respect of the lands and waters of Victoria. We are committed to partnering with Traditional Owners in land management and will work closely with Traditional Owners as we make improvements to the way we manage land and emergencies in Victoria.
Victoria welcomes the and its commitment to enhance Emergency Management Australia’s capability and capacity, and establishing a national resilience, relief and recovery agency and ‘Resilience Services’ by 1 July 2021. Ensuring that the Commonwealth agencies remain coordinated and provide for streamlined engagement before, during and after emergencies is essential. Any enhancement in Commonwealth capability and capacity needs to recognise and adjust to the different arrangements in each jurisdiction and identify and support downstream resource implications which can often be significant.
Victoria welcomes early action from the Commonwealth on the establishment of appropriate national ministerial and official level governance arrangements. These arrangements should ensure oversight of a prioritised implementation plan, resource and funding implications and consultation with key partners, including communities, business and the not-for-profit sector.
Reviewed 05 March 2021